Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

25 November 2005

Black Friday Adventure

If the crowds are any sign, there is a lot of black ink flowing on ledgers today. My youngest and I got up early with two stores on our agenda: Best Buy and Staples. The former store opened at 5:00am and was the source for a 40GB pocket drive (for me) and undisclosed present for Tandy and a copy of Elf for my shopping companion. The latter store opened at 6:00am and was the source for a 1GB thumb drive for me and a 4MP Kodak camera and dock for Tandy. We pulled up to Best Buy at 5:15am to find around 250-300 people streaming into the store. The parking lot at the Maine Mall was totally packed. As my youngest and I walked to the store from the nether regions of the lot a guy wandered by and told us, "All the good stuff is gone. The computers and cameras were all presold by ticket." The start of the experience was quiet surreal.

Once in the store it was a complete madhouse. Over by the computers area, which we had to venture near to obtain the pocket drive, it was more like a prison riot than a store. People were shouting and jostling for the computers, despite the fact that each computer was linked to one of the tickets passed out earlier. I had to carry my youngest to keep her from being seriously trampled. We grabbed the drive the secret gift and copy of Elf and made for the line. In line we had very nice people on either side of us. My youngest played with the appliances, particularly the fridges, while we wound our way to the registers. She also made sweet with Kristin, a twenty-something pediatric nurse, during our forty-five minute wait in line. There was line cutting and general craziness as people took a spot in line then sent a member of their part out for more shopping. A store employee even came by with offers to go get "more stuff" for people who were already in line. The strangest incident was a guy who had a heart attack in line and had to be taken out in a wheel chair. A woman a few people over said, "Quick honey, fake a heart attack so we can skid ahead in line." Ick!

The scene at Staples was totally different. The employees still had that sense of being totally harried, but there really was no one there. This was no have-a-heart-attack-in-line kind of place. At Staples we were in and out in minutes. The 1GB thumb drive I wanted was right up front and there was a whole palette of 4MP Kodak cameras. My youngest looked at some chairs for a bit; she was sweet on a blue mesh one with wheels. We came back home and she hid the present for her Mom, the item which cannot be named. We returned home to pick up the less crowd-enthusiastic members of the family: Tandy and my oldest. All four of us returned to the Mall area for breakfast at IHOP, which was a well coordinated madhouse. After breakfast we took Tandy to Staples, which was quieter still, for an xD card for her new camera. The clerk gave her an SD card, which we discovered once home, necessitating yet another run out to the mall area to replace it.

After a serious nap and some Myth Busters I put my new hardware to good use. The thumb drive allows me to easily back up all of my standard files, which was difficult before because my email put me over the size of my 128MB thumb drives. The 40GB pocket drive already has my music files on it and is destined to take the photo archive, after all we are going to need a mechanism for sharing photos. Tandy has the Kodak camera and dock all plugged into her iMac and has been tinkering with it for a while. I personally consider the goods and pricing to be worth the effort expended, but it clearly is just the other side of crazy.


At 25 November, 2005 22:36 , Blogger brook said...

wow Christian- that is some story. I saw this stuff on the front page of the paper today- but you were at the front lines!

I heard Best Buy was selling real decent laptops for $379- RW DVD drive, 40 GB, wifi, etc- but the joke was that they only had ten per store.

At 26 November, 2005 08:53 , Blogger Christian Ratliff said...

The count per store is a minimum only, so I bet there were more than ten. The pocket drive I bought indicated there was a minimum of seven per store, but the shelf had at least twenty of them. That being said, Best Buy was well configured to convince people to buy items they had not planned. People with armloads of DVDs would still pick up additional, full-price DVDs laying around the line circuit.

It was a trip and a half!


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